• Resonant Reviews

Kotori Audio Cables: Carbon, Tungsten, Silicon

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

When I was just starting out my audio reviews, Kotori Audio was one of my first few followers and eventually they reached out to me to review their cables, Carbon, Tungsten and Silicon.


Disclaimer: These cables were graciously loaned to me by Kotori Audio. I have to return them the cables after reviewing them, and was told to give my honest opinion on them.


INTRO

Kotori Audio is an up and coming audio cable company that originates from Singapore, like myself. As they are a new company, their main lineup consists of 3 audio cables, the Carbon, Tungsten and Silicon. They also carry some connectors in case you would like to DIY or fix your own audio cables such as 2 pin connectors and 4.4mm plugs.


QUICK SUMMARY Common sound improvements:

- Across all cables, sound has more depth and each note carries more weight to it

- Music has better separation


Carbon (69.90 SGD)

  • Neoprene (Elastomer) Wrapped Polyolefin Insulation

  • 1.2M cable length

  • 28 AWG, 4-braid / 6-braid / 8-braid

  • AEC Connectors & Premium Kotori Audio Y-Splitter

Sound improvements:

- Mids and midbass has more impact and bite to it

- Highs sound better due to good separation

- Cleaner, deeper bass and improved bass presence improved also due to separation


Tungsten (89.90 SGD)

  • PVC Insulation

  • 1.2M cable length

  • 28 AWG, 4-braid / 8-braid

  • AEC Connectors & Premium Kotori Audio Y-Splitter

Sound improvements:

- Brighter and more spacious highs

- Mids more emphasized with more punch in midbass

- Bass gets less emphasis here


Silicon (169.90 SGD)

  • PFA Insulation

  • 1.2M cable length

  • 28 AWG, 6-braid / 8-braid

  • AEC Connectors & Premium Kotori Audio Y-Splitter

Sound improvements:

- Crisper and cleaner highs

- Mid and midbass has more impact, attack and presence

- Improved bass extension


Where to get them: Kotori Audio

WHAT'S IN THE BOX

The box has their logo and brand name stamped on the cover and insider you would find:

- Cable

- Instruction Manual


The packaged cable sits nicely in the box with soft padding around it, and the instruction manual thanks you for purchasing their product at the front and a very helpful guide at the back:


It shows you the dos and don'ts of inserting the cable! I thought this was really handy especially since given the price point, they are probably targeting users who are rather new to this and might be unfamiliar with the proper ways of inserting and removing the cables. It also includes a QR code to their website should you want to take a look.


BUILD QUALITY

When I first received the cables and looked at it, I didn't think much of the design as it looked really simple. However after using it for a while, I've grown to appreciate the subtle sleek look that they were going for.


For all cables, you are able to select which connectors you want (0.78mm 2 pin, MMCX, Fitear and QDC/UE), and which plugs you prefer (2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm).


In general, Kotori Audio's cables look simple but feels really premium in your hands. They are generally supple and have a nice feel. The y-splitter is uniquely shaped like a slightly wider hexagon and has their logo subtly printed on it, feels really premium too! The connectors look simple yet nice and I have no issues with that.


Having owned other brandless chifi cables, this definitely is a step up in terms of build quality. I believe that the shielding used is of a different quality too as it feels really different from the ones I have. It comes in a matte finishing for all 3 cables to give it that clean look.


SOUND

For sound, I would talk about the improvements that the cable provides as I believe that it is more accurate that way.


Before going onto the details, the setup used in this review are as follows:

Earphone - ThieAudio Monarch

DAP - Cayin N6ii


1) Carbon

Outfitted in a simple black shielding with silver connectors, it didn't stand out much. However once I connected them to my Monarch, the improvement was definitely noticeable! I thoroughly enjoyed the improvements to the sound.


Overall, the music sounded weightier, warmer and notes were thicker. The obvious improvement was in the midbass and mids, giving it much more impact. Drum snares had more attack to them and the kick drums sounded more "rounded". It didn't felt like the sound was hitting against the floor and dispersing out but rather punching through and you could hear that difference. This was the problem I had with the Monarch but I didn't expect the Carbon to rectify this issue.


Similarly in the highs, there is more weight to it but its presence is quite subtle. Initially I thought that the Carbon gave the highs more presence, but its actually due to better separation of frequencies on it that gave that impression.


As a result of better separation, bass tends to stand out more and sounds cleaner. There isn't much interference with the other frequencies compared to the stock cable. The bass reaches just slightly deeper on the Carbon versus the stock and with better separation, it's presence is better felt.


When listening to the music as a whole, the Carbon is more enjoyable for me because I'm always looking for details and the Carbon does this very well at a very competitive price point. Considering that both are similarly priced (69 USD for ThieAudio EST cable vs 52 USD (approx) for Kotori Audio Carbon cable), I would say that the Carbon is a good upgrade (or side grade?) from the stock cable. Personally, I feel that the Carbon rectifies most of the issues that I had with the Monarch and then pushes it even more.


2) Tungsten

Tungsten has this unique dark grey, non glossy shielding. It is also somewhat thinner than the Carbon and is really light.


As for sound improvements, highs are clearly brighter, sound more crisp and feels more spacious.


Mids get the most improvement here, being more emphasised. Vocals tend to sound more forward and have more of a presence in this cable, sounding denser and more lifelike compared to the stock cable.


Midbass gets a bit of a boost too, with kickdrums having more punch in your ears. Listening to tracks with lots of drums and electric guitars are great pairing with the Monarch!


However, the bass isn't as prominent, being a bit shy and hiding in the background and you would have to listen closely to be able to clearly hear it. It's not that the cable removes the bass entirely, it just gives it less emphasis. With the more prominent midbass, it does sound like there's more bass but compared to how low the earphone can actually go, this actually dampens it slightly.


Separation levels are similar to the Carbon, giving it just enough separation for you to tell apart the different instruments clearly with little effort.


Overall, I really like how the Tungsten brings out the highs and the midbass in the Monarch, making it a lot more engaging than it already is.


3) Silicon

I have to be really honest here, I spent the most time on this because after briefly comparing the 3 cables when I first got them, I really like this a lot and just stuck with this for quite a while. This is the first time I've heard such a great improvement a cable can make on an earphone. It's like the Carbon and the Tungsten cables had a baby that had the best qualities of both parents. Or maybe it's the other way around, where the Carbon and Tungsten is a spin off of Silicon. Hmm...


Having the best qualities of both the Carbon and Tungsten, highs definitely sound cleaner and more crisp, mids are quick with more presence and with a good amount of bite to it, and lows are definitely deeper. The Silicon is not as dark as compared to the Carbon, but more tamed in the highs compared to the Tungsten. I believe that Kotori Audio’s sound signature is to give the music more weight to it, as this trait was clear throughout all three cables.


I really like how clean the sound is from the Silicon and how much more weight I get in each note. Using the Silicon cable with my Monarch, each guitar note carries a lot more emphasis to it, kick drums definitely has more kick to it and the bass goes deep that it’s like having a mini-subwoofer in my ear.


However, microphonics on this cable is bad. If the cable rubs against each other, which happens as they tend to be coiled, or hit against my sling bag, I can definitely hear it and it's really annoying at times. If you are intending to use this without moving much then I would highly recommend you get this cable. Otherwise, maybe consider getting the one of the other 2 cables instead depending on your needs. I have since feedback to Kotori Audio regarding this and they are looking to resolve or minimize this in future iterations.


Despite that, I still think that the Silicon is an insanely good cable for its price as it makes the music sound cleaner and gives the note more weight.


CONCLUSION

Overall, I am really impressed Kotori Audio's creations, all their cables are of very good build quality with impressive sound quality improvements but without the bulk. I am highly considering of getting one for myself as it’s a perfect pairing with the ThieAudio Monarch and gives it the ideal sound that I am looking for. Any of their cables are great bang for your buck so do highly consider them if you are looking to replace or get upgrade cables for your earphones! Great job Kotori Audio, keep up the good work and I look forward to future creations from you guys!


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